BICYCLING THRU WATERLAND, THE NETHERLANDS
“The flats” is a term best describing the Netherlands. Perfect for leisurely biking, which is what we did directly out of Amsterdam to the iconic Waterland district. The summer landscape was green and gorgeous. The cattle in the fields, the birds overhead, the occasional rooster’s crow and the ever-changing skies were a spectacular scene. Go if you ever have the chance … Read More
SUMMER IN AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
It was mid July in Amsterdam and the days were a mix of sun, cloud cover and drizzling rain. Whenever the clouds cleared, people poured into small boats, zipped through the canals and gathered in sun-kissed clusters. We passed wonderful scenes of boats filled with friends talking, listening to music and sipping drinks in patches of bright sunshine … Read More
SANTA MARIA MARKET IN MALLORCA, SPAIN
The Santa María market happens every Sunday. Farmers and artisans sell fresh mediterranean produce, cheese, meats, flowers and more. I always buy honey, seasonal fruits, almonds. I wander through the aisles, soak up the weekend vibe and take photos. I can’t help that. Everything is so beautiful and so: bountiful! Sometimes there is music and we dance. What’s not to love? … Read More
20 THINGS I LOVE TO DO IN MALLORCA, SPAIN
We lived on the island of Mallorca for a year. Needless to say, it was amazing! Here is a list of our favorite things to do in Mallorca … Read More
SPRINGTIME IN FLORENCE, ITALY
We visited Florence at Easter, as spring sunshine warmed the city and evening light lingered on the surrounding Tuscan hills, beckoning people to stay out later. The city was buzzing with holiday activity. There were formal suits, colorful dresses and bouquets of flowers everywhere. Shop windows displayed enormous chocolate eggs wrapped in pastel foil … Read More
FINCA SON MICO IN SÓLLER, MALLORCA
There is nothing quite like discovering Son Mico for the first time. Almost everyone stumbles upon the finca (manor house) on foot, while walking the GR211, the old postman’s route through the hills of Mallorca. Long ago, before there were tunnels and paved roads, the only way to get from one estate or mountain village to another – or to deliver mail – was to walk this stone path. Today we do it for pleasure. Especially the pleasure of meeting Isabelle and Ines, the sisters who own this little morsel of heaven … Read More
RAVELLO, POSITANO & THE AMALFI COAST
The first time I saw images of the Amalfi Coast was more than 20 years ago while flipping through a National Geographic magazine in my grandparents’ house. I was mesmerized and vowed that I would visit – someday. The photographs were dramatic and the coast appeared closer to heaven. Perhaps because of the steep, cliff climbing roads? Or because the combination of Mediterranean sea, Italian wine, linguine con vongole en bianco and walks in the hills are my idea of heaven. Always have been, even back then … Read More
A DAY IN CHIANTI IN TUSCANY, ITALY
We bicycled across the hills of Chianti. Our private tour was organized by I Bike Italy. Our guide met us at the company’s Florence shop and then drove us a short distance to an old country house, up above Florence, where our bicycles were waiting for us. We hopped on and headed out onto a quiet road which winded like a fallen ribbon across the tuscan hills. We followed the ribbon … Read More
I spent three days in Oslo with my family in February. I wanted to see the city’s winter self, with its icy shades and bundled up residents. I imagined city walks on empty streets and the sounds of a harbor ferry cutting through frozen water. I wanted our boys to feel the chill, to get the sense of fortitude … Read More
Close friends of mine, after visiting Berlin, seriously contemplated packing up and moving to Penzlauer Berg or Kruschev. Some of these friends lived in San Francisco. San Francisco! What could possibly be so good about land-locked Berlin that would make someone leave Pacific beaches, the Sierra Nevadas, Napa Valley and a world-class city in Northern California? I was intrigued to find out … Read More
A WALK IN THE PYRENEES
We spent an autumn weekend walking in the Spanish Pyrenees. I can’t imagine a better to time to tour this gorgeous landscape than the middle of October. We parked our car in the village of Espot, followed a trail for a few hours, enjoyed a lakeside picnic lunch and then continued on into early evening … Read More
AT HOME IN MALLORCA
I will remember playing family ping pong and soccer games in the lower field, watching the boys build shelters in the bamboo forest, the shimmer of our swimming pool bordered by olive trees and gathering around a picnic table covered with bread, wine, meats, cheese and fruit. I will remember skipping down the steps (old railroad ties) to jump … Read More
A WALK IN LISBON, PORTUGAL
On a winter afternoon I took a walk in Lisbon. I started at the waterfront on Avenida Ribeira das Naus, where many of Portugal’s most famous ships were built back in the Age of Discovery. The sun was warm and everyone was outside soaking it up. I walked along the waterfront until I stumbled upon a bunch of people seated on deck chairs. I ordered a bica … Read More
THE KIDS LOVE PARIS
Living in Europe again now, as we do, has given me the chance to revisit Paris with my family. I have loved walking the streets with our boys and watching them enjoy Paris the way I did: dawdling along the river, debating ice cream flavors at Berthillon and wondering why the Mona Lisa is such a big deal. And I love watching them experience things differently too: playing tag at the monuments, riding the merry-go-round in the Jardin des Tuileries and feeling exhilarated by the dramatic climb down the steps of the Eiffel Tower on a freezing cold winter night … Read More
VEJER DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN
Vejer de la Frontera is a white washed Arab-Andalusian village perched high above the Atlantic ocean. On a clear day you can look out over its windmill dotted hills and see the coast of Morocco.
Vejer de la Frontera isn’t just eye candy. It’s also interesting, with an artsy vibe, quirky shops, a dramatic, isolated setting, a medieval castle, contemporary design flourishes and eerie tales of people being driven mad by winter winds. Vejer has been ruled by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors … Read More
CABO DE GATA, SPAIN
Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Spain’s southeastern province of Almeria, is a strange and beautiful land, unlike any other place on earth (as far as I can tell.) This wild, isolated coastal landscape is dotted with elegant flowering agave plants, crumbling stone structures, even a community of pink flamingos. Winding roads cut through large swaths of red, rocky earth and lead to the warm, sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean … Read More
BEST PLACES TO EAT, DRINK & PLAY IN GRANADA, SPAIN
My husband and I moved from San Francisco, California to the Albaicín of Granada, Spain for the year with our two children. Taking a break from life at home has given us time to explore Granada together and experience Andalucían culture. We have spent countless hours wandering the city’s streets and hiking trails and lounging in plazas, chatting over drinks and tapas with new friends. We love this vibrant city nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Here are some of our favorite places to eat, drink and play along with our suggestions to make the usual tourist stops more interesting … Read More
HIKING IN LAS ALPUJARRAS, SPAIN
The excursión is a big part of our life in Spain. Weekends are spent hiking or biking the seemingly hundreds of amazing natural parks. Shortly after we moved to Granada, my husband told me that one of his mountain biking buddies had invited us to caminar las alpujarras with a group of local families … Read More
SPRING IN ANDALUCIA : ORANGES EVERYWHERE
Oranges are everywhere in Andalucía at this time of year. Juicy sweet and sour mandarinas and naranjas are dropping from trees lining narrow lanes and bustling avenues, painting groves along the highways and brightening local carmens (traditional, walled gardens of Andalucía). How lucky it seems to be Andalucian and live every spring under this citrus blanket! I love this painting “Gitana de la Naranja” by Julio Romero de Torres. And this poem by much loved Spanish writer Federico García Lorca who grew up near here:
Under the orange-tree
she washes baby-clothes.
Her eyes of green
and voice of violet.
under the orange-tree in bloom!
The water in the ditch
flowed, filled with light,
a sparrow chirped
in the little olive-tree.
under the orange-tree in bloom!
Later, when Lola
has exhausted the soap,
young bullfighters will come.
under the orange-tree in bloom!
MY 16 FAVORITE PLACES IN MADRID
I love Madrid. I love the vibrant, friendly Madrileños. I stay on Huertas Street in the Barrio de las Letras, Madrid’s oldest neighborhood and also one of its most lively. This neighborhood has a mix of shops, galleries, coffee houses, bars and excellent restaurants, from old tabernas to trendy tapas bars and everything in between … Read More
TOP 10 PARIS BOULANGERIES, PATISSERIES …
We took our kids to Paris for the first time and went crazy for sweets. Trusted friends had given us a list of the city’s best boulangeries, patisseries and glaciers (pastry, bread and ice cream makers). We starred them on our map and ducked in every time we passed one. So much fun … Read More
We dipped down into Portugal’s Douro Valley on a late December afternoon, after driving over from Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I was wide eyed, anticipating the ribbons of green and clusters of white stucco quintas with terra-cotta tiled roofs that would let me know I was in port wine country. I could taste the “tawny” just thinking about it. I love a good landscape. I love port … Read More
O CURRO DA PARRA, SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN
My family and I had a delicious, dreamy meal at O Curro da Parra. We didn’t have a lunch reservation so we wandered up late morning and seeing that there was a small light on at the back of the restaurant, we tapped on the door. The place was warm and festive; it was December 24th, Christmas Eve in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The guys inside welcomed us and said “We’ll get a nice table ready for you. Come back when we open.” We returned on time and were led upstairs to a small stone and timber beamed room to a table next to the window. It was a blur from then on. We listened (to recommendations and stories about the food), selected, sipped and savored Galicia’s hand picked best: cheese, seafood, pork, wine… We talked and we laughed. By the time coffee was served our waiter was our new best friend … Read More
15 FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN DUBLIN
I have just returned from my first visit to Dublin, Ireland. I had only had three days, but I went for it and ….what a trip! When you’re in Dublin, check out some of the places on this list. (I’ve only included my favorites). Enjoy!
1. Ha’Penny Bridge
2. The Winding Stair Bookshop
3. Trinity College
4. Queen of Tarts
5. Vintage Cocktail Club
6. Brother Hubbard …
MAP + MUSE MOVES TO SPAIN
We have moved to Spain! We placed our material things in storage, settled our sweet dog Boomer in for an extended vacation with family and hit the road! Well, it is not as simple as that… and yet it is also as simple as that.
We are here for some sweet family time, to learn Spanish and to share the journey of living in another culture with our children. These three things guided our conviction that we do this, but there is a long list of whys to overwhelm the why nots, including: olive oil, Mediterranean swims, history, siestas, tapas, festivals, wine and of course, the Spanish themselves, whose extraordinary warmth and friendliness embraced us upon arrival … Read More
HOTEL MONACO, HOAGIES & HISTORY IN PHILADELPHIA
I planned our trip so that we would arrive by train and experience the city on foot. This is a family trip, a historical tour with the kids. This is how we roll: each pulling a small carry on spinner through the station to the subway below, which swiftly transports us across the Schuylkill River toward Historic Philadelphia. We emerge on a sunny, bustling sidewalk and wonder: Do we go straight for the cheesecake or drop our bags at the hotel first? Our spinner bags make perfect makeshift chairs and since we are lollygagging, we eat cheesecake under the canopy of an oak tree. Hello Philadelphia! … Read More
Q & A WITH SAFFRON TRAVEL
I got to chat with my friend Long (pronounced “Lom”), owner of Saffron Travel, a Vietnam based boutique travel agency specializing in authentic journeys through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Unique home stays, trips organized around an interest (Art? Architecture? Wellness?), luxurious beach resorts, history, food … Read More
LISBON : A PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL
“I have always liked Lisbon. It’s a very friendly and warm city most of the time, even when it rains. I arrived by bus, crossing the 25th April Bridge (a tribute to the Carnation Revolution back in 1974, which overthrew the Estado Novo, a one party, fascist and nationalistic matrix type of government) into a cloudy and gloomy scene. It was early, about 10am, and you could see the mist coming out of the River Tagus…” … Read More
BEST PLACES : MISSION DISTRICT, SAN FRANCISCO
I love San Francisco. I enjoy late mornings in North Beach, aimlessly crisscrossing the steep, leafy green lanes of Telegraph Hill. I hit the Ferry Building at least once a week and I have a soft spot for the highest point in Lafayette Park (Pacific Heights); the boys climb trees while I gaze across the city, across the bay. But the place I spend most of my time: The Mission … Read More
PORTRAIT of EUROPE
Map + Muse friend and collaborator Micael Nussbaumer is embarking on a 12 city European tour and he is going to take us along for the ride! Micael’s photographs, like the above street style portrait of a bicyclist in Padua, Italy, are fresh, engaging and representative of his friendly personality. A professional photographer who loves to travel, Micael was born in Sweden and raised in Portugal. He will be traveling with his camera and staying with friends, snapping photos in Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and more. Lucky us: he’s promised to share his story in each place. Stay tuned…
BEAUTIFUL BOLINAS, CALIFORNIA
Bolinas is a small Northern California town, nestled in the hills where the Bolinas Lagoon meets the Pacific Ocean. It’s only 30 miles from San Francisco and yet it feels far removed. Still, it pulls in its fair share of fashionable city folk and tourists. I recently spotted a group of gorgeous young Italians sipping cold beer in pretty glassware on the patio at Coast Cafe. Clearly they, like everyone, wanted to check out Bolinas.
To do so, they would have had to journey along the coast and wind their way blindly off the 101 into the town. There is no road sign. There is no road sign because the locals have spent years foiling attempts by the state highway department to identify the town. They tear the road signs down because they don’t want to be found … Read More
Our plane descended with the sun and we stepped out into a beautiful Barcelona evening. It was seven o’clock and the night was just getting started. We had no intention of adjusting to a new time zone on this short holiday. We had no meetings to make, no routine to hold and, without children, we could sleep and wake whenever we felt like it. Barcelona proved to be the perfect destination for us: The Catalan lifestyle of late nights, late mornings and mid-day naps matched our internal West Coast clocks … Read More
BEST PLACES : RU NAM CAFE, HO CHI MINH CITY
My favorite café in Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon is call Ru Nam Café (96 Mac Thi Buoi Street, District 1, Saigon). Even though it’s primarily a coffee shop serving delicious brewed coffee, it’s their Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches that I particularly love. They divide up the baguette into manageable sizes and the traditional meats, pâté, pickles, chili and fresh vegetables inside don’t feel too heavy or too light. Perfect for a snack. The location is about as central as you can get … Read More
In the world of Caribbean destinations, Anguilla, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos seem to corner the market on pristine waters, deserted beaches and small, private hotels. But while these other islands are beautiful, dreamy and relaxing, friends told me that Jamaica was “interesting”. Some went so far as to state that if I hadn’t been to Jamaica, I hadn’t really been to the Caribbean. I had to go… Read More
TRAVEL STYLE : I LOVE HATS
I love hats.
Hats protect me from sun + snow. They hide my face when I wish to go undercover, anonymous. They are a useful accessory and a great prop too. When traveling, the right hat can characterize an adventure and when not traveling, it can make you feel as if you are … Read More